Day 11,12 & 13: Valley d’Orcia

Plan for the 3 days

We planned to be in Val d’Orcia for four days and three night and had booked an accommodation in the “most scenic part” of the valley for thre three nights. Our base was on a farm away from the nearby towns. Val d’Orcia was a huge place so in the day time we would be exploring the surrounding and the towns by car and in the evening we would be back at our base.

By the end of the three days
We had a lovely time at Val d’ Orcia, the scenery was breathtaking and we certainly had picked the right (most scenic part of the valley) to stay. Most people would prefer to stay in a nearby towns with restaurants within walking distance. For us we were fine with doing our own cooking at our “stay”,eating our meals on our terrace/open deck and spending hours gazing at the amazing landscape scenery surrounding our “farm”. 

During our stay we drove out to explore three nearby historical towns, they were Pienza, Monticchiello and San Quirico d’ Orcia. We enjoyed strolling through the alleys of these towns and each had their own appeal. 

Val D’Orcia (near where we stayed)

Val d’ Orcia was one of Tuscany’s six Heritage Sites. The “Val” of Val d’Orcia probably meant valley and it was a valley of beautiful gently rolling hills. Green hills that stretched on and on presenting a landscape which looked so enchantingly lovely that made me want to hold my breath a little longer so that I would not miss any details in front of me.

Our “stay” was at Agriturismo Poderina, a farm somewhere in the middle of the valley. By just standing on the driveway leading into Agriturismo Poderina we could already see Capella Madonna di Vitaleta in a distance. This capella was one of the most photographed churches in Italy. Looking at it we could understand the reasons why this capella was so loved. Its backdrop composing of wide “wavy” green hills of different shades, far away darker colored hills, blue sky with feathery clouds and a full “day” moon created an absolutely stunning view. 

Capella Madonna di Vitaleta

Capella Madonna di Vitaleta

On the first day of our arrival at Agriturismo Poderina after we settled our luggage we drove out to look for a place where we could view a beautiful sunset. We did not have to go far just at the top of the driveway into Podere Belvedere was already a great spot to see the sunset. 

Waiting for the sunset at the top of the driveway of Podere Belvedere

Waiting for the sunset at the top of the driveway of Agriturismo Poderina

The sun began to set at about 8.25 pm and the scene was breathtaking. The entire place was so vast, the hills that went on and on were 360° around us. They were changing colors as the sun descended toward the horizon.  Every angle we turned we saw something awesome!

Sunset as seen from the start of driveway to Agriturismo Poderina

Sunset as seen from the start of driveway to Agriturismo Poderina

Even after the sunset, the beauty for the place still continued to evolve. The gold and green landscape turned into different shades of blue and black. As the place darkened, white mist started appearing from the ground and little lamps in the farmhouses lighted up. The scene in front of us turned mysterious and lonesome, it seemed to call out to us to stay on. We were torn between staying out in the chilly night or returning to our warm and cosy “stay”.

Val d' Orcia

Val d’ Orcia after sunset

The scenery at our “stay” was very lovely especially in the early morning and after sunset. We loved to spend our time doing nothing but looking at the beautiful green hills ahead, sipping a cup of hot tea, feeling the cool air, waiting for the day light to fade and the moon to brighten up the surrounding.

Scenic View of d'Orcia from the outdoor deck of our stay

Scenic View of d’Orcia from the outdoor deck of our stay

Capella Madonna di Vitaleta

From our “stay” we could reach Capella Madonna di Vitaleta by either a short walk through an  inner road or drive via a main road. We decided to drive as we would move on from the capella to Pienza (town) after that.

From the main road (SP 146) we turned right into a smaller road (dirt road) and drove for about 1.5 km before we saw some cars parked at a small clearing by the side of the road. From our google map we figured that the right branch road would lead to the capella. We parked our car too and walked for about 700 m before we finally saw the capella.

route from Agriturismo Poderino to Cappella Madonna di Vitaleta

route from Agriturismo Poderino to Cappella Madonna di Vitaleta

This chapel used to be the home of a Renaissance statue of the Madonna scupted by Andrea della Robbia in 1590. The statue had since been moved to another church. Personally we felt that the Capella looked more stunning when seen from far. From the driveway of our stay which was about 1.7 km away the capella looked mystical.

Capella Madonna di Vitaleta

Capella Madonna di Vitaleta

Pienza

Pienza was a quaint historical town about 7.5 km east of our “stay”, it was located on a higher ground so from far we could already see the town houses and bell towers.

Pienza

Pienza

The town center of Pienza was off limit to cars so we drove around looking for car park and managed to find some white lined (no charge) carpark lots opposite the Co-op supermarket. 

Map of Pienza

Map of Pienza

Pienza town center was pretty and clean. During our visit it was not crowded so it was very pleasant to stroll through the streets and side alleys. We especially loved the pots of flowers placed here and there brightening up the clayey farcade of the houses.

 

Pienza Town Center

Pienza Town

Our stroll took us to Piazza Pio II where we saw a tall square clock tower and the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (also known as Pienza’s Duomo).

Pienza – the City of Pius, was considered to be the incarnation of a Renaissance utopia and an ideal city.  Its 15th-Century piazzas and palazzi were organized according to the era’s ideals of rationality and humanism. In 1996 it attained reognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Piazza Pio II and Pienza Cathedral

Piazza Pio II and Pienza Cathedral

From the edges of the town we could also see the lovely landscape of Val d’Orcia. It was as stunning as those we saw at Agriturismo Poderina (our stay). Pienza would be a good base to stay and explore Val d’ Orcia if one preferred the convenient of a town with cafes, restaurants and shops.

Looking into the valley at Pienza

Looking into the valley at Pienza

The valley scenery as seen from Pienza

The valley scenery as seen from Pienza

Monticchiello 

Monticchiello was a smaller town 8 km east of Pienza. Like Pienza, Monticchiello was located on a higher ground. Before we reached the town we could already see it perched on top of a hill. A lovely sight. 

Monticchiello

Monticchiello

We were practically the only visitors in town. Unlike Pienza, Montichiello was less touristic, there were lesser number of shops, cafes and restaurants.  We walked to some very scenic view points to enjoy the scenery before we left for our “stay” at Agriturismo Poderino.

Stunning landscape around Montichiello

Stunning landscape around Montichiello

San Quirirco d’Orcia

San Quirirco D’Orcia was the nearest town to our “stay”, about 3 km west. On our third day we went into town to explore and search for coffee and cakes.

San Quirico d' Orcia

San Quirico d’ Orcia

It was another quiet charming historical town. We explored the town, walking though its streets and alleys, peeking into old churchs and houses.

Streets and alleys of San Quirico d'Orcia

Streets and alleys of San Quirico d’Orcia

Finally we found a local cafe that we liked and went in to have our capuccino and scone. Oh mine! For two cups of capuccino and a scone it costed only €3.60! A third of the price in Florence!

Coffee break at San Quirico d'Orcia

Coffee break at San Quirico d’Orcia

Val’d orcia 

On the 4th day just as we were leaving Val’ d Orcia just when we thought we had seen all the nice sights of the valley we came across  two very lovely sights.

The first was a “golden” sight at about 11 am, we were just driving along the road and the sunray was pretty strong. In the far distance we saw a town on top of a hill, we guessed the town could be Castiglione d’Orcia, a town that we did not visited. The silhouette of the town and its tower against a golden “canvas” was unforgettable.

Castiglione d'Orcia

Castiglione d’Orcia

Agriturismo Podere Casanova (co-ords: 43.024921, 11.769568) was the second sight that caught our attention. It looked so unique from the road that we couldn’t help ourselves but stopped our car to photographed it. 

Agriturismo Podere Casanova

Agriturismo Podere Casanova

 

Accommodation for three nights

Our “stay” at Val d’Orcia was Agriturismo Poderino which we had booked from Booking.com. The price for three nights without meal was €201. It was a double room with ensuite toilet and cooking facilities.

I picked Agriturismo Poderino for its sight of the valley. Our double room was rather pretty, unfortunately it did not have a window with a view. The view could be seen from an open deck built on top of a slope just beside our room. On the deck was a jacuzzi but it was covered up with a “signboard” indicating that if we wanted to use the jacuzzi we could check with the host. 

Our room at Agriturismo Poderina

Our room at Agriturismo Poderina

The toilet was of a good size, clean and neat and had a great shower too.

Ensuite Toilet at our double room

Ensuite Toilet at our double room

Outside our room was an sheltered terrace where we ate our own home-cooked meal. Once this sheltered terrace probably had a direct view of the beautiful valley unfortunately it view was blocked by a newly constructed white single white building in front. Housed in the new building was an accommodation, a wine cellar and the host’s new office. 

Sheltered terrance outside our room

Sheltered terrace outside our room

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